2 May 2017

Burundi: Refugees Still Streaming Into Rwanda

Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times
A Burudian child prepares a meal at Mahama refugee camp. Environmentalists are warning about the dire effects of cutting trees for firewood.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has noted that there has been a steady flow of Burundian refugees into Rwanda.

The UNHCR said the situation is worrying, as it had been believed that the political situation in Burundi was stabilising.

"Burundian refugees continue to arrive in Rwanda at a slow, steady pace as the Burundi crisis passes the two-year mark," the UN agency said on Thursday.

Some media outlets in Rwanda reported last week that over 10,000 Burundian refugees fled to Rwanda in April alone, but the UNHCR said this number was exaggerated.

"In April this year, 406 Burundian refugees arrived in Rwanda, which is even lower than in previous months in 2017. In March, there were 595 new arrivals; 791 in February; and 732 in January, for a total of 2,524 new Burundian arrivals so far this year," the UNHCR said.

The total number of Burundian refugees who have fled to Rwanda since the start of the crisis in April 2015 is now 94,581.

According to the refugee agency, of those, 9,236 have been temporarily inactivated, either by leaving their refugee registration credentials at the border when leaving the country, or by missing three consecutive food distributions in Mahama camp.

"This means the total number of Burundian refugees who fled since April 2015 and who remain actively registered in Rwanda is 85,345," the agency said.

The total number of Burundian refugees registered since the political crisis broke out stands at 413,679, with 237,393 of them in Tanzania. Burundi, like most East African countries, is experiencing a food shortage due to drought, but the country's agricultural output has also been affected by political instability.

Currently those fleeing have cited food shortages as the main reason.

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